The Lesbian Majority In The Minority

An odd and mild prejudice has been revealed to me whilst binge watching my latest obsession – I’m late to the party but I am loving Wynonna Earp! – I have found that with perhaps the exception of Curtis in Arrow, there are no male gay characters that I find particularly engaging on television. Even with Curtis, it is the character of Curtis, not his relationship, that I like. When it comes to gay female characters my feelings are completely different.
From Willow and Tara on the best show of all time, Buffy The Vampire Slayer – shut up, it is! – to my present favourite show, Wynonna Earp, – hashtag Wayhaught – television’s representation of lesbianism has always been more, emotionally, appealing than that of the homosexual bent.
At this point, I should probably confess my inappropriate and undeniable love of a character and actress who is almost half my age in Dominique Provost-Chalkley (if she gets married and keeps her name, that will be a real mouthful!) and her character, the feisty Waverley. Along with Katherine Barrell’s dark-eyed police officer, Nicole Haught, they make up one of the most engaging and wonderfully organic gay couples on television, the aforementioned Wayhaught.
It is a testament to the writing, casting, and performances that the relationship works so well in the show. From the moment officer Haught comes into the show, the attraction to Waverley is immediate and obvious. Not that it should be a massive surprise as the creator and showrunner, Emily Andras, was also involved in the sexually fluid and brilliant Lost Girl.
It does beg the question as to why female gay relationships seem to be explored so much better in terms of emotion than their male equivalent, especially as – though this may just be a result of my city myopia – there seem to be far more gay men than gay women. Not that I seek out programmes with gay relationships in them and perhaps as such I have just not seen the shows that reflect the emotional depth that shows I have watched with gay relations – Buffy, Lost Girl, Supergirl, Wynonna Earp – convey.
Even the shows that have embraced male on male relationships, such as Empire, created by the openly gay Lee Daniels, tend to approach male relationships differently, with, in the case of Empire, the gay Jamal character portrayed by Jussie Smollett, very strong and prominent in the show but any partner or hook up he meets being only there to support his character, lacking any true purpose themselves.
Even though Tara and Willow were in Buffy and Waverly and Nicole have irresistible chemistry, it is the portrayal of Alex and Maggie in Supergirl that is my favourite couple. The openly gay Maggie (Floriana Lima) challenges Alex (Chyler Leigh) view of herself, when after years of failed heterosexual relationships, she finds herself, to her surprise, attracted to the streetwise, tough-talking, Maggie. Both tackle elements in the relationship that they have always shied away from, both are similar in that they have erected a wall around themselves, projecting a certain persona, in order to protect their hearts.
Amidst the silly and enjoyable superhero stuff, they more than any other characters, explore the complexities and challenges that are part and parcel of any relationship.
In the landscape of television, much more so than film, there is so much scope for the stories and realities of any and every group to be told and heard. The stories of women, gay men and women and those in the transgender community are being heard and sought more frequently now. For myself, as a British black person, there are still so many stories that are not being told and even in these increasingly multicultural and multiethnic times, few stories that reflect the plight or even normality of the fish-out-of-water scenario that is everyday life for so many non-white or indigenous people in the big city.
Whether this is a reflection of the powers that produce and make programmes or a reflection of the viewing demographic is hard to say, but with so much media and so many platforms to get our stories out there, I am confident that it will and can only get better.

There’s Always Music

  It is not my place to say what a person, or people, should or should not like. There are those crazy people, in my opinion, who shun chocolate. I remember knowing a young woman, who, like myself, was of Caribbean descent, who did not like chicken. She was not even vegetarian! She just did not eat chicken. I am pretty sure she is the only non-vegetarian, black person I ever met who did not eat chicken. It was just odd. Not so much that she became ostracised. After all, people are peculiar. They have quirks and as long as they harm no other, good luck to them.

   Having said that, I do remember hearing of one of the more disconcerting dislikes I have ever known a person to have. It was many moons ago, I was working in a large department store and got talking with one of my colleagues. She was married and I think we had maybe seen her husband once or twice. We were all in our twenties and, to us boys, a married woman half the age of our mothers was intriguing. So we asked her about her hubby; when they met, what does he do? What’s he into? What music does he like? I cannot remember the answer to most of the questions. What I do remember is her saying he didn’t like music. He doesn’t like music? Nope. He doesn’t like music? No. No kind of music? None.

    To put it into perspective, his dislike of music had no impact on my life whatsoever, this is a conversation that happened over twenty years ago and though I cannot remember her name, my former colleague, I remember that. That he did not like music. It was just so unheard of, the dislike of music.

    Obviously for the deaf and aurally challenged the absence of sound is a normality. But to be able to hear and not like any type of music is, without meaning to be judgemental but doing so all the same, weird.

   With the advent of the moving image over a century ago and the initial inability to tell a story with spoken words, music was an integral part of storytelling. Even with the introduction of talking pictures, the music remained. Music is emotive, it tells us where the story is going even when we have missed some of the words. Such is its power and omnipresence in film, leaving it out can be as powerful as choosing the right type. Remember the opening scene in The Spy Who Loved Me and Bond escaping his pursuers whilst skiing through the mountains and the music cutting as he went off the slope? Epic.

   Every film fan can think of music that is synonymous with a favourite film. The Darth Vader march, The Dambusters, The Godfather, the Superman theme, the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone and so many more.

   I remember buying the soundtrack album to Coppola’s the Cotton Club after watching it twice in the same week. I was similarly blown away by the soundtrack of the Bruce Dern starrer, Nebraska. Would Guardians Of The Galaxy have been the same film without its epic soundtrack? Not at all.

   Music evokes memories. A song can take you right back to a specific moment, a particular mood, a smile, an encounter, a wonderful evening or a summer. Melody has its own story. So I ask you, as a relatively normal and open minded individual, what kind of person doesn’t like music?

Test Drive

She looked around the restaurant. A couple on the next table received their meals. Gemma looked enviously at their plates. Roast lamb, potatoes and vegetables. Was that a Malbec red they had as well? She glanced forlornly at her glass of white. Meh.

“Don’t order red wine!” Kerry had warned. Gemma had been mortified.
“I love red wine! Nice Merlot with steak – what?” Kerry had looked incredulous.
“You are not going to eat steak! What is the matter with you?”
“I’m not eating salad! What does it matter if I’m eating steak? He asked me to dinner. I’m going to eat!”
“He asked you to dinner.” Kerry stated. Gemma nodded; yes. “Dinner. Not lunch. He wants it to go somewhere.” Kerry surmised.
“What? No, don’t be silly…he just wants to thank me for helping him settle in. What?” Kerry was smirking at her. “You cannot be that naïve.” Gemma blushed slightly. She was not.
“I shouldn’t have accepted should I? I’ll tell him I’ve got a meeting -”
“You’ll do no such thing! How often to you get taken out to dinner?” Gemma did not answer, it had been a while. Kerry carried on. “It’s nice to get asked out; wined and dined. Makes you feel like a woman, an attractive woman.”
“I feel like woman, all the time.”
“Really? As you jostle to work on the tube, deal with emails and eat lunch at your desk?”
“A working woman.”
“How about being a sensual woman?”
“Instead of a, how did he put it? Besuited, high flying, emasculating, ball buster.” Gemma recalled, remembering a night a year since past, when she and her partner, Pete, ten years a hospital porter, got into an argument.
It had been her fault. Maybe.
A bad day at work, Pete came in a little frazzled. Gemma had returned from work an hour earlier. Her day had been brilliant. She had been headhunted by a competitor in front of her boss. Not wanting to lose out, her boss had not only offered her a salary increase, he had also given her a promotion. She was all smiles as a scowling Pete came to greet her. Noting his mood, she inquired about his day. Mistake.
“Bloody awful! Worked me like a dog! Denis, the useless prat, called in sick, so I had twice as much work to do! On the way back, got stuck in traffic, car cuts out and won’t start! That is going to cost a fortune to fix!” Gemma, trying to look sympathetic but too excited, blurts out her news. How she got a promotion and a raise and probably will get a bonus. Pete nods, a wry smile.
“Well, don’t be too happy for me!” Gemma spits sarcastically, wounded by Pete’s lack of enthusiasm at her news.
“I’m sorry, no it’s good, good that you got promoted.” Pete softens. Gemma is grinning again.
“Of course it is! And don’t worry, I’ll sort the car out.”
“What? No. I can do it myself.”
“But I want to help. It’s alright -”
“It’s not alright! I might not earn as much as you but I can look after myself!” Pete was angry. Gemma stunned.
“I didn’t mean -”
“What did you mean?”
“We’re a couple. I’m just trying to a -” And Pete interrupted again, letting her know exactly how he saw her.

“Which you are not! Not all of the time anyway.” Kerry brought her back to the present.
“He was just angry. Pete loves me. And I love him.” Gemma stated, as though she needed to hear it out loud. Kerry was smiling again.
“Gem, I love Pete. I love my Volkswagen as well. I would still test drive a Mercedes. That’s all your doing; test driving.” Gemma looked at her grinning friend. She still felt guilty, but she liked the idea.

“Sorry, I was gone so long.” Gemma snapped out of the memory, smiling at the handsome man who spoke as he sat down opposite her. Stephan. Handsome, slim, cultured with an accent, easy to smile. Gemma felt like a teenage girl with a crush, as he settled himself into his chair, picking up the menu. He looked up at her.
“What looks good?”

“Try and get fish. It digest well, won’t bloat you.” Kerry had counselled. Gemma had nodded, “goes with white wine as well.”
“Why can’t I have red?”
“Gem, you don’t go on dates. You’re going to be nervous enough without worrying about spilling your wine and staining!”

Gemma had been glad she took that advice. She had been trembling with fantasy inducing anticipation all day, only mildly guilty and relieved that she was not going home, thus not having to lie to Pete about why she was so dressed up. It had been worth it. Stephan had been so complimentary.
“I had thought you were impressive whilst at work, but seeing you like this….!” He had let the comment hang, his eyes finishing what words could not convey.

“Shall we get some bread?” Bloat. Bloaty. Bloated.
“No, thank you. I had quite a big lunch.” Gemma lied. She was starving and the wine was making her head swim. Stephan tilted his head; as you wish.
The conversation flowed easily. They spoke of life and dreams. Childhood and fear and the future. She had not felt so engaged, so alive in a long time. Was this not how life was suppose to be?

“What if I liked the Mercedes?” Gemma challenged. Kerry paused, looking thoughtful. “You’re always going to like the Mercedes. It’s new, it’s shiny, it works perfectly, does all the right things.” Kerry looked at a photograph; her on her wedding day, ten years before. She looked back to Gemma, serious now, but still in allegory mode.
“I’ve maintained my old banger for ten years. Not all easy. I’ve had test drives. Even took a long one once.” Gemma goes to open her mouth, but Kerry shuts her down. “But you know what I found? They all become bangers eventually. I can’t afford to upgrade every couple of years!”

Stephan, a gentleman throughout, paid the bill. They left the restaurant. Out in the evening air, Gemma did not want the evening to end. Stephan extended an invitation; “Would you like to come for a night cap?”

“When….when is the test drive over?” Gemma inquired, eyes wide looking for a sign, a glimmer of permission from her friend. Kerry lent forward, taking Gemma’s hand.
“You’ll know when it’s over Gem.” She squeezed her hand. “You don’t need a new car.”

She looked at the almost model handsome Stephan. Just one drink. One would be….nice.